A skateboarder’s ability to scrutinise and philosophise over minor details is a skill unmatched.
Styles, pushes, spots, tricks and clothing are all subject to critique by peers or fans; and, with those last two in mind, the name Elijah Berle evokes the image of him championing the nosegrind pop-in and the phrase ‘outfit crisis’.
Considering the days of stair hammers and skinny jeans, the post-Fully Flared flannel and tech takeover or the low-impact influx of recent years; adhering to the zeitgeist is rife for the everyday skateboarder and, simply, more recognisable for those in the spotlight. But going back to the beginning of Elijah’s career, one person stands out as impactful, to say the least, and that’s Corey Duffel.
“When you see footage of Elijah at 14, you’d think he was 18. He was probably six feet tall. I saw a sponsor me tape he sent to Foundation and you could clearly see he was influenced by Cataclysmic Abyss. The tight black pants, the small black shirt and chomping on rails,” begins the Duffman.
“At 14 he had already done a backside salad grind down the Jamie Thomas ‘one more time’ rail from Misled Youth, the one Jamie 5-0s and he puts his hand up for another, and I thought, “Fucking hell, who is this kid?”” laughs Corey.
Foundation began flowing Elijah boards shortly afterwards and he and Corey instantly clicked when they met. “He felt like a little brother,” says Corey, warmly. By the time he was 16, Elijah frequently stayed with Corey and his wife for weeks on end. “I’ve got like five photos [from back then] and seeing him as little baby Elijah is hilarious,” he laughs, adding he even taught Elijah how to ride a motorcycle outside his house.
“He showed no caution whatsoever. It was actually intimidating skating with him because he was going so hard. You’d take him to a spot and he could do anything there. I remember watching him do a nosegrind nollie flip on this rail by my place. It’s a rail most of us would do 5050s on. Nothing was safe around him and he was having fun the whole time.”
Standing out with pop and power, Corey remembers: “Elijah was doing 5050s up handrails as a 16 year old. He didn’t skate like a kid. He skated like a man and, obviously if you look at his footage now, he still skates like a fucking man.”
“We’d fuck with him, as he was the ‘kid’ [on the team], but Elijah was big and could probably stomp out any of us so I don’t think anyone had the balls to pick on him,” chuckles Corey, reflecting on Elijah’s relationship with the rest of the Foundation crew.
Photo: Anthony Acosta
However, he didn’t meet entirely eye-to-eye with Foundation’s team manager, Mike Sinclair, which Corey feels contributed to Elijah leaving Foundation after being told the team “didn’t need to two Duffels.”
“He wanted to ride for Foundation, and was enjoying it, but he was told to change up his attire. To tell a 16 year-old how to dress was so rude. That really pushed Elijah to think, “I’ll do, dress and skate however I want.” It sparked him from that moment on,” says Corey.
“You’re confused at 16. Maybe not confused but whether you think you’re original or not you’re just doing your own thing. At least Elijah thought that so to tell him, “You can’t wear tight jeans,” was so childish because, in a year or two, Elijah wasn’t going to continue to dress how I was. He was going to go into his own direction momentarily. You just have to show support for people and allow them to blossom into their own.”
According to Corey, Elijah was kicked off Foundation for riding an Alien Workshop board in an Osiris commercial (although he called it “a mutual breakup” in a 2010 TWS Interview). “It frustrated me so much that I didn’t want to dig into it. Then when he told me Rick [Howard] and Mike [Carroll] wanted to send him boards I thought, “It’s a blessing in disguise.””
Entering Tampa Am, as a flow rider for Chocolate and Vans in 2010, Elijah took first place. “He was grinding up an eight-stair rail in his line and I don’t think he was fully going for it either,” says Corey. “That line looked like a first try goof off. It didn’t look serious for him. I don’t think he’s even put out a full 100% video part yet, I think he’s still kind of goofing off.”
Elijah, ever the anti-authoritarian, kickflips over some slatted wood in blatant disregard of directional street signage. Photo: Acosta
Two years later, Elijah’s first section under the Crailtap camp came with Pretty Sweet, turning pro off the back of it the following summer. “Most of that was filmed before he was actually ‘on’ Chocolate. He was still flow at the time. Girl and Chocolate want to make sure you really vibe in before they put you on the team,” adds Corey.
Elijah’s look and approach since Pretty Sweet is, arguably, his most identifiable - an ATV decked out in work pants and flannel; with a brash approach taken up a notch in Propeller as he tanks through ditches and LA back lots. Raised in a melting pot of Santa Monica heritage (his childhood home a block away from the Triple Set and stone’s throw from the Courthouse ledges, plus, his mum regularly surfs at the Santa Monica Pier), Corey feels Circle Jerks couldn’t have been a more fitting soundtrack for his Propeller part. “Him skating to a Southern Californian punk band with a two-and-a-half-minute part of nothing but hammers was just raw.
“The flannel, the beanie, the wifebeater - where it’s basically 95 degrees at all times? I love it. He embraces it and he’s fully got that surf local vibe,” says Corey.
While the bodybuilders of Venice Beach might think they're the main attraction, it's a well known fact Elijah's tough guy panache makes knees go weak as soon the shirt comes off. Backside air transfer. Photo: Acosta
Despite not sharing a sponsor for over ten years, and seeing each other less often nowadays, Corey and Elijah’s friendship has maintained the same big brother/little brother dynamic. “When he got on Fucking Awesome I was like, “Hey, you dick - you’re ditching Mike and Rick?,” laughs Corey.
Pointing out that, with his new sponsor and crew, Elijah is starting to resemble one of The Outsiders in a pair of powerful trousers, Corey says: “I think it’s cool and innocent that Elijah changes it up a bit with who he’s hanging around. He’s always been true to himself but he’s clearly inspired by people. You should always take inspiration from people and I think it’s a beautiful thing to see.
“If he wants to change it up and wear pants with smiley faces all over them - and someone wants to talk trash on it - why? Is it lame because he wants to do something different?
“There’s nothing wrong with that. He’s still doing it 100% his own way. There’s nobody else on those FA brands that skates or looks like him. You can’t compare Sean Pablo to Elijah Berle.”
Elijah dropped out of high school. However, his time bunking calculous to size up the schoolyard's picnic tables clearly proved to be useful later in life. 360 flip. Photo: Acosta
Asked whether there’s anything significant which people might not know about Elijah, Corey says nothing springs to mind which isn’t already out there, but affirms: “He’s never become too cool, or too big for his boots, and all his OG friends say the same thing too.”
Corey’s wife, Rachel, says Elijah “was a little brat but always sweet,” who consistently drops whatever he’s doing when he bumps into the Duffels. “He even introduced us to his girlfriend as ‘his other mom and dad’ at the “BLESSED” premiere,” she adds.
Reminiscing over the days when Elijah would occupy the Duffel residence, Corey recalls: “There was never a time where he wasn’t stoked and I still see that same smile, and that same kid, in all of his footage and whenever I see him now.”
Words by Farran Golding.
Boards and other profanity from Fucking Awesome available in-store and online.
Season 8, episode 7 delivers the first UK guest in the form of Skateboard Cafe pro Korahn Gayle.
A lot of hype and genuine laughs in this one!
Click the Reece Leung snap for the episode.
After our chat with Casper Brooker during the Nike SB 'UK58' Tour, we accompanied the UK swoosh heads up to Hyde Park and sat down for another conversation with Chris Jones as the dusk settled over the chilly mid-September evening.
Originally from Wales, but residing in London for a good few years, to call Chris 'well travelled' is an understatement. His time as a sponsored skateboarder has seen him journey around the UK, riding for a couple of cherished board companies of days gone by, and regularly getting coverage across various publications for over a decade. Since settling in with Isle Skateboards in 2013, Chris has produced some of the finest contemporary UK video parts brought to us via the lens of Jacob Harris' and the award winning productions 'Eleventh Hour' and 'Vase'.
A man of many of words, most of which are articulate and insightful (and would make for excellent pull-quotes if our content management system allowed it), it was a pleasure to be educated on Palestine's history, the changing skateboarding media landscape in the UK, discuss Isle and enjoy some Dave Mackey appreciation with Chris.
Duck under the rails and backside kickflip. Photo: Sam Ashley / Free Skate Mag.
You’re quite well known for your involvement with SkatePal and I think the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an issue a lot of skateboarders probably aren’t aware of or simply don’t understand. Could you explain the situation over there?
It’s really complicated. I guess to simplify it, which I probably shouldn’t, but basically Palestine used to be an independent country before the state of Israel existed. There was the Balfour Declaration, which was an agreement to allow Jewish people to have their own state, then after the Second World War, because of the horrific things which happened, they were finally granted the state of Israel. Which is completely understandable. But as a result, the British basically gave the land of the Palestinians to the Israelis. It’s more complicated than that in a way as Israelis were already living in Palestine before that.
Anyway, so the British gave this land to Israel which obviously created a bit of tension and animosity between the two. Then there was a war, the Nakba, and basically Israel won the war and they have occupied Palestine since.
Palestine is split and there are two places, the Westbank and Gaza, which have two political systems. They’re very different, I’ve never been to Gaza, I’ve only been to the West Bank so I can only really talk in relation to that. It is a really complicated issue but in simple terms Palestine is occupied by Israel and citizens are really restricted in their freedom of movement and a lot of their human rights are violated.
There are differing levels of occupation, divided by zones, right?
Yeah, there is. There are areas A, B and C and the occupation is usually dependent on property and the rights to build. Zone C is under complete Israeli occupation, which is basically a settlement where you’ll find Israeli’s living. Then the other, more free zones, are predominantly Palestinian such as Ramallah which is like the capital. They have a little bit more freedom in regards to property, what they can do with the land and getting permission to build whereas with the in-between zone, B, the bureaucracy is more complicated and people have a harder time.
But it’s all occupation, it’s all restricted and monitored and basically people’s lives are dictated by whatever the IDF [Israel Defence Forces] and army want to do. If they want to come in and make arrests they can do that and the Palestinians can’t really do much about it.
Feeble fakie, Asira Al-Shamaliya, 2015. Photo: Emil Agerskov / SkatePal.
What initially drew you to SkatePal? Had you been involved with any charity work beforehand?
Yeah, I used to work for this charity called Kids Company in London which helped out inner city kids from poor, rough and generally difficult backgrounds. It would offer therapeutical services to kids. It would give them a place to come and stay, free food, workshops, therapy, classes - they offered loads of things. They were a really great charity but unfortunately due to various, what people would call scandals, the government withheld their grants to the charity and as a result of Camila Batmanghelidjh, who was the owner, it went bust.
I did that for one summer and I realised that I wanted to do more work with charities. Then a brother of a friend who knew Charlie Davis, the founder of SkatePal, mentioned the charity back in 2014. I read a bit about SkatePal and I messaged Charlie saying I was interested. This was in the early stages. I went out for one the first projects so I’ve just been helping out when I can since then.
Did you have any experience of building skateparks, such as DIY spots, or did you learn as you went?
No. Actually, before that I hadn’t done much construction work as far as labour is concerned. I went to Palestine for the first time without any experience building skateparks or anything. I didn’t learn an awful lot in that first project because we didn’t have many professional skatepark builders with us. We were learning on the job and figuring things out as we went along. But I got an interested in that side of things and had so much fun. Since then I’ve been volunteering for other charities, doing a bit of building, I’ve and done a few little DIY things and helped with some construction companies in the UK.
My friend Zak Saleh was out in the West Bank at the same time as you and I stumbled across of a photo of you working together. Can you remember him?
Yeah, I know Zak, he was with us when we were building the Asira Park. He’s a lovely guy.
Chris in Asira Al-Shamaliya, 2015 with BGPs from my mate Zak (4th from the left). Photo: Lily Hartmann / SkatePal.
In the longer cut of your 365 Days on Planet Earth part there’s a moment where you’re getting the boot and you actually mention the park in Asira. Has bringing up your work with SkatePal relieved any kick-out situations when you’ve been street skating?
No, that was a bit of a desperate moment and I really wanted to do that trick. They were just asking what we had been up to and, in a way of trying to get one more go, I thought it was worth a crack, [laughs]. They let me have one more go then I fell really hard and hurt myself so maybe it wasn’t worth it in the end.
In your interview on the SkatePal website you touched on the difficulty you encountered working with children who were of different religious backgrounds which was eventually resolved through their time skateboarding together. I feel non-skateboarders would assume bringing skateboarding to such a conflicted area like Palestine is a naïve way to make any progress. However, the ability to break down a religious barrier through skateboarding is really powerful.
It’s something which is a result of it and not necessarily an intention from the beginning. There just isn’t an awful lot for kids to do there. Obviously it’s not going to end occupation but it’s great to provide something for kids to do, to basically enjoy themselves after school and not have everything be so negative. As far as the Christian and Islamic kids, you’ll have them skating together but the religious differences vary from town to town.
Those issues are very complicated and a hard thing to address but it’s definitely brought a lot of kids together who wouldn’t have hung out otherwise. Which is the same with any skateboarding community in the UK, you’ll have kids from different backgrounds skating together. Skateboarding is a unifying thing.
There are charities which really try and bridge that gap which SkatePal supports this but aren't in a position to be the ones to do it. There are charities which try and bring Palestinian and Israeli kids together, I forget the name of the charity now, but they take them surfing and stuff like that. There’s a lot of effort to do that but I guess it just has to be done in the right way otherwise it can create a lot of problems I suppose.
Are you religious yourself?
How does that affect your mind-set when you’re placed in a society where religion is so prominent?
To be honest, going there for the first time made me more interested in religion and learning more about it. From being there I’ve read and learnt a lot about Judaism, Islam and Christianity in the sense that ironically they all come from the same place. They’re all Abrahamic religions and have stemmed from the same beginning which is quite mad when you think about the conflict which has resulted from those religious differences.
When I was younger I found religion hard to grasp because I didn’t understand it. I just didn’t get it. Then going to Palestine you really see the differences but I don’t think religious difference should be a divide. I think it’s fine for people to have their religions, that’s great, but it’s a shame when that creates social problems.
This might seem like a tenuous link but with skateboarding’s introduction to the Olympics in a couple of years, do you feel the exposure of skateboarding in a more athletic way could provide further funding for organisations such as SkatePal, Skateistan and such?
Yeah, for sure. With the other charity I volunteer for, Make Life Skate Life, we’ve built parks in Nepal, Etheopia, Maymar and Sulaymaniyah, recently. Their charity in particular have had opportunities to build parks in new places because of the awareness that skateboarding is becoming an Olympic sport and they want their kids to compete in that realm. It’s great for charities because there is a lot more funding for that and people are more open-minded to the idea of having a skatepark built. Whereas prior to it being an Olympic sport people would probably say: “What’s the point? We’ll just let our kids play football.” It’s hugely beneficial for charities.
Aside from many of areas you’ve worked in being underprivileged is there a recurring attitude or aspect you’ve encountered throughout your volunteering?
As far as going to these places and seeing the way people are treated - most people are always very grateful. That’s the thing. The reception I’ve had from going to these places and building parks has been so positive and the community are so happy and grateful for people to come and help. With a place like Palestine, a lot of people feel quite neglected; like the world has forgotten about them and doesn’t really care so the welcoming is overwhelming. It’s quite motivating and makes you want to continue to do that work because you can see the positive effect it has on the community.
Isle X SkatePal collaboration board and Chris' 'Curiosities' pro model. Photo: Isle Skateboards.
Isle collaborated with SkatePal a little while ago and you all headed out there to film the Pieces of Palestine video and produced a board too. How do you think the others guys found their time there?
I think some people were a little bit hesitant at first because the stuff you read in the news can make it seem like it’s going to be really dangerous. Whereas the reality is that it’s not particularly dangerous for a westerner to go to the West Bank. There was a few questions to answer at first but once people where there and had eased into it I feel they really enjoyed themselves. It was quite an educational and eye-opening trip for them and everything those guys said afterwards was really positive which is great. Obviously, the kids were so stoked to have an actual team go and skate Palestine because a lot of people tend to avoid it or don’t think about going because Israel is really good for skating. Also, I think a lot of the time people are misled to think that going over to the Westbank is much harder work than it actually is. It’s just a simple bus over from Jerusalem. Actually, from my experience, I feel a lot safer in the West Bank than I do in a lot of places in Israel.
Did you have more of a culture shock going out to Palestine for the first time or returning to England and, I imagine, having a different perspective of life in general?
To be honest, I got quite depressed when I first came back to the UK. I found it hard. When you learn about a situation which exists in the world and how a lot of countries, Britain in particular, just don’t do enough and it’s just allowed for people’s human rights to be so violated. For people to live in such fear and occupation - it’s saddening. It was like something had been revealed to me which I hadn’t seen before. As far as a culture shock, I had never been to an Islamic country so it took some getting used to the call to prayer in the morning and stuff, but it was a great experience and I never felt uncomfortable or that shocked. It was just a very different way of living but a very good one as well.
So, still on the subject of your travels but a bit closer to home. You’ve been sponsored for a long time and a large chunk of your career has taken place during a period where tours from board and shoe brands were much more frequent than they are now. Even this Nike trip, which is only four stops, is somewhat of a rarity. Having been on both the viewing and performing sides of a fair few UK trips, what effect do you think current generations missing out on the experience of seeing people come through their hometowns may have on their attitude towards skateboarding?
It’s very different now. When I was younger and used to go on some of the trips around the UK, it was before the time of Instagram and social media wasn’t as popular. Videos in general, like online videos, there wasn’t as many. You would wait for a video to come out from your favourite skaters and then when they would go on a tour that was the only time you’d get to see them beyond that one video. It was more of a thing.
Nowadays, with social media, you can have direct access to your favourite skaters just on your phone so going to see people in real life isn’t necessarily as... Not unimportant - but different. Some kids probably do get excited from it but others aren't as interested because they know they can just look on Instagram and see what their favourite skater has been up to and feel connected with their lives through the internet.
But as far as shops are concerned, it’s good really to go and show appreciation to the shops for supporting a scene. Plus, just meeting people is really important. You don’t really properly meet people through the internet. I don’t know, maybe people DM each other now, but I feel like meeting people around the country and feeling connected to a larger scene is quite an enriching thing. I think a lot of kids do miss out but I also feel that kids don’t get excited about these sort of things as much as they used to.
Pivot to fakie, Transport Musuem, Glasgow during the Nike SB UK58 Tour, September 2018. Photo: Reece Leung / Vague Skate Mag.
While we’re reminiscing over the ‘good old days’. What memory stands out from your time riding for East?
[Laughs], I guess for me the first Big Push that I went on with East. That was one of my first proper skate trips around the UK and that was an amazing experience. I was so stoked to go touring around the UK, skating so many spots and especially going to Liverpool. It was just a great time for me. It was a like kid’s dream as I was really young at the time, around 15, and I was so happy to have that opportunity.
Going to Liverpool when I was younger; I would stay with [Dave] Mackey and skating and filming with Dykie [Matthew Ryan] around there was so fun. I used to love the missions up, it was quite exciting as a kid. That whole period was so fun. Liverpool is amazing to skate as well so I really enjoyed it. And just watching Mackey skate because I’d never seen someone skate that fast or slam that hard before. I took a lot from that because I slam quite hard as well. That had a big impact on me and was quite influential on my skating, I think, [laughs].
Was it an easy transition going from East to Crayon, given Dykie’s involvement and having Korahn Gayle as a team mate too?
Yeah, I guess we were really sad that East had finished so we tried to keep it going in the way that we could by having pretty similar riders and stuff. It was a way of trying to keep East alive, in a sense, but it was a really natural process because Dykie was filming. I was filming with him anyway and he wanted to start something. He’s a good old friend from Wales so it was just natural for that to happen.
If I’ve got this timeframe correct, it was towards the end of your time with Crayon Skateboards that you moved to London, met Jake Harris and started filming for Eleventh Hour . Then you ended up riding for Isle around half way through the video, right?
Yeah, well Crayon was basically ending so the timing worked out in such a way that I moved to London and didn’t have a board sponsor. I had met Jake on a Nike SB Big Push, because I got sponsored by Nike while I was at university, and I remember he called me when I was at the library saying: “We’re going to go on this trip, do you want to come and film for this video?”
Through doing that I met Henry Kingsford [editor of Grey Skate Mag] and he invited me on another trip to Berlin with Rob Mathieson and Nick Jensen. From there it was just natural. Paul Shier called me, as Blueprint was also ending at that point, saying: “We’re starting this new thing.” As everyone was leaving Blueprint I didn’t have a board sponsor and it felt like quite a natural thing to happen. I was overwhelmed and so excited.
I’ve noticed a regular topic during interviews with Isle riders is that it’s often brought up how neurotic you all apparently are. The stress of trying to film tricks can amplify that so how does Jake manage to handle all of your quirks and keep it together?
Well, we’re all neurotic so it’s like a big therapy session, [laughs]. We’re all in it together and when you’re all mental together it’s not as bad. He does a really good job, on these Atlantic Drift trips he’s been taking the role of a sort of TM. It’s easy to be productive with Jake, he’s a productive filmer so he gets the best out of people.
How did filming for Vase  compare to Eleventh Hour?
It was very different for me because when I was filming for Eleventh Hour I was still going through this process of having an existential crisis and thinking: “I’m going to do a masters. I’m going to get a proper job. I’m going to do this and that…” I still thought I was going to do something else and skating wasn’t my priority. It wasn’t the only thing I wanted to focus on. Eleventh Hour was great but I definitely feel I could have tried harder or just gone out filming more because I was working and stuff. I wasn’t fully in the zone the whole time, I was at moments, but I was a bit more scattered with the way I would film.
With Vase it felt like it was time to do a part I was really happy with and give it my best shot so I was a lot more committed and focused. Vase was more consistent and I was going out on missions with Tom [Knox] and Jake and it was really fun. I’d not worked that hard on a project since I was really young and filming for this video called Who?
There was a lot of anticipation for Vase, especially due to the perception of Isle as a successor of sorts to Blueprint, what impact do you feel the video had?
I think it gave Isle it’s identity and image. Before that people were still thinking it was kind of the second wave of Blueprint but Jake and Nick did a really good job working together and establishing Isle’s aesthetic. Isle really got it’s image from that video. I think it was really good in that sense - for establishing Isle’s identity.
Although Atlantic Drift is separate to Isle, the series has felt like a continuation of Vase to me. Do you think Jake will stand by his claim that Vase will be his last full length video or is there any talk of another Isle project?
Not yet, no. Because we’re doing Atlantic Drift there isn’t really a need and it would just be too much work, basically. Jake’s got a lot on his plate and there isn’t anyone else we could film a video with so it’s just the timing, basically. He hasn’t got time to do it and we’re all focused on Atlantic Drift anyway so that’s kind of enough for now. But it would be great to film another video one day. I would be so excited, so hopefully it will happen.
Thanks for you time Chris, what’s next for you?
I think I’m moving to Berlin next month so that should be fun. Just in time for the winter, [laughs].
Once you've enjoyed Chris' fantastic 'Vase' part have a browse of our range of decks from Isle Skateboards.
Nike SB footwear and apparel available in-store and online.
If you missed it earlier this week, have a read of our interview with Casper Brooker and if you're in the mood to indulge in more Isle-related reading material then head to Speedway Mag's series of articles on 'Vase' with Jacob Harris, Casper, Nick Jensen and Tom Knox.
The Nike SB 'UK58' Tour passed through Leeds couple of weeks back with Casper Brooker, Chris Jones, Kyron Davis, Myles Shankie and Mark Stern in tow alongside ice-man Reece Leung and sterling bloke Cubic on camera and driving duties, respectively. Eniz Fazliov was also set to make an appearance however the previous night's dinner plans triggered a couple of undetected stomach ulcers and Eniz instead found himself residing in a Scottish hospital bed rather than enjoying an autumnal evening in Leeds.
As the swoosh crew popped by the shop, we collared Casper Brooker to get up to speed on life after turning pro, rooming with Jacob Harris and our pal Mike Arnold, ponder the influence of 'Vase', discuss sponsor changes and talk all things Atlantic Drift before Casper and co. headed up to Hyde Park to bask in the remaining hours of sunshine.
photo: Slam City Skates
Last time I interviewed you was three years ago, just before Vase  was released and you’d had quite a busy year with travelling and filming for the video. Apart from being able to legitimately put ‘professional skateboarder’ on your CV, how does your life now compare to back then?
[Laughing], it’s basically the same just with more travelling. Especially with Atlantic Drift. We’ve been doing that every few months for the past two years and then there has been Nike stuff going on. Chris Jones was filming a part, I was filming a part about two years ago, it’s just all been pretty full on. It’s been great through; more of the same but better. More intense but I don’t really like being in London for too long at a time so it’s perfect.
Where in London do you currently call home?
I’m living in Peckham with Mike Arnold and Jake Harris which is great. I’ve lived there for four years but we just got a place together about three or four months ago.
What are they like as housemates?
I’ve lived with Jake before and I’ve basically fucking lived with Mike on skate trips anyway. It’s great, we’re all super close friends.
Have things ever got tense on a filming mission with Jake and the drama has carried on into your home life?
Not here but that happened when we used to live together because I was filming a part, I was younger and not being as aware as I should have been. There was a couple of months where I wasn’t even considering that it’s his time too and I would bail on going skating at the last minute. He got pissed off - rightly so! I think there was an argument in the house but it got cleared it very quickly and we were cool, [laughs].
You've said that you didn't properly have your head in gear with filming for Vase until the last nine-or-so months. Then about a year after the video you came out with that standalone part with Jake for Free. Was that making up for lost time with Vase in a way?
Kind of. But again I ended up having something happen in that time. I broke up with my girlfriend right in the middle of that part and that affected it a little bit. Which is basically what happened with my Vase part too, [laughs]. I think that was essentially the idea but with any project you always think you can do better. I was hyped on how it turned out, there was some tricks in there I was really happy with. I just wish I had filmed more lines and made it spread out a little bit.
Ollie up, frontside shove from Casper's solo video part by Jacob Harris for Free Skate Mag.
There was so much anticipation leading up to Vase, which Jake delivered on, but what effect do you think the video has had for Isle as a company since then?
It definitely gave Isle a face that it didn’t have before Vase came out. People didn’t really know too much about Isle; it was Nick’s art, his vision and there wasn’t anything that really went along with it. Jake absolutely smashed it with that video so it gave the company a good chunk of its identity and really helped to put Isle on the map.
How does going on filming missions and trips for Atlantic Drift compare to when you were working on Vase?
It’s very different, because with a full-length video – that’s the only full length video I had been a part of [Casper had a part in Slam’s City of Rats but Vase was his first in a company's full length video – FG]. I was younger and Jake’s very good at what he does so I didn’t really know how to work in that way. I was a lot better with Atlantic Drift because I kind of learnt how to do it a bit more ‘professionally’, so to say. But the Atlantic Drift trips are funny because everyone is so close now it’s like there’s a particular ecosystem. We all know how each other work and no one breaks away from that. It all goes very naturally.
Is there less pressure as there’s no looming deadline for this grand production which has been a few years in the making.
Definitely. I mean they come out frequently and you know you’re only on the trip for two to three weeks but there’s a large amount in pride in these kinds of things so you want to be productive and leave your mark in the edits.
What has been your favourite Atlantic Drift trip so far?
It’s hard to say because we’ve been to some sick places but my favourite, because we did two trips to New York, was probably our second trip to New York. We were there for two weeks. We were staying in a really good apartment, right in the fucking mix of it on Essex Street in Manhattan, everyone had a good time and got loads of footage so it was the perfect mix. San Francisco was amazing and Hawaii was unreal as well.
ollie, San Francisco - photo: Alex Pires / Thrasher Magazine
Was going to Hawaii for Tom Knox’s stag-party originally planned as an Atlantic Drift destination or did the video come of the back of Tom’s celebration?
Well, because Tom’s such a neek… [Laughs], I’m joking. Basically, we’re not going to go to fucking Magaluf for a weekend for him, Tom’s idea of a good time is being out skating with his mates and trying to film. Which is great, we all envy him for that. There are sick spots in Hawaii, we wanted to do a trip there and thought we should make it so it was at a nice time for Tom as well. It wasn’t for either/or - both just blended well together.
When the Atlantic Drift series started, Mike Arnold was still riding for Skateboard Café. How quickly did the talk of him getting on Isle come around?
Well it’s funny because Jake went on a Converse trip with him to Nicaragua a few years ago and it was talked about. Then after everyone had been hanging out with him it came up more and more but Mike was pretty set on staying with Café. Then I think it was during the San Francisco trip we started to pressure him about it more than we had done [laughs]. Then him, Jake and I went to New York afterwards for a little side mission and I think that’s when he made his mind up. Skateboard Café is sick but it just made sense for him to be on Isle.
Out of all the brands which sprung up towards the end the 2000s/early 2010s, Isle has had the most consistent line-up. Is there a reason the team has stayed small or is it just because you’re so tight knit it’s difficult to find another person who fits?
Well, again it’s like the Atlantic Drift thing I mentioned with having a little ecosystem, everyone knows each other so well and knows how to work with each other in a certain way. It’s not like some teams where it’s: “Oh yeah, I’m teammates with him but I don’t really know him.” Everyone can call each other up and go for dinner or something like that. I think people are pretty particular which is a good thing.
You and Mike are also riding for Supreme now. Can you shed a bit of light on how that happened?
[Laughing], I don’t really know. All my friends work in the London store and I’ve known Jagger [Dan Ball, manager of Supreme London] for a while and then it just happened naturally through that I guess. Neither of us were expecting it to happen so it’s cool.
You’ve rode for Slam for a really long time, how did they take it? I had a laugh the other day, as your name is still on their team page but it’s crossed out.
[Laughs], yeah Mark Jackson does that stuff, it’s pretty funny. They were super cool about it. Jackson and Jake [Sawyer] still work there and Jake’s the team manager so he took it really well. I love those guys.
As you frequently get asked about the switch from Emerica and Heroin to Nike SB and Isle, and now with moving from Slam to Supreme, do you ever worry about the perception people may have of you switching sponsors?
No, I literally couldn’t care less. I rode for Heroin for four or five years but bought the boards consistently for three years beforehand. I rode for Emerica for three years but bought the shoes for four years beforehand. I was also a kid. I changed. With Slam and Supreme that was just something that kind of just happened. With the Emerica to Nike thing, if people would have anything to say about it now, I think that’s pretty silly. People change and I think we’re at the point in skateboarding where people don’t really think like that anymore.
Whilst we’re on the subject of change, you’ve previously touched on how the scene at Southbank has shifted and mentioned you aren’t keen on the way that the younger generation act. As Long Live Southbank are now concentrating on re-opening and expanding the space do you think that would have a positive effect on the attitudes down there?
Recently, I was pleasantly proved wrong about that. Those kids now are all just skating which is sick. I’ve been going to Southbank way more and I think I was wrong at that time just because I’d idealised this Southbank scene which I had grown up with and it wasn’t like that. So, everything I said in that interview is silly and I sound like a dick. It’s great what Long Live Southbank are doing and it’s crazy how much money they’ve raised, they’re nearly there now. Big respect to those guys.
You mentioned you get a bit restless when you’re in London for too long and, although you’ve travelled a lot, I guess you haven’t spent that much time up north. But what spots and skaters spring to mind when you think of skateboarding up here?
No, I haven’t really spent too much time in the north, I’ve actually only ever been up here on trips. Obviously Rogie [Stephen Roe] and Joe Gavin spring to mind when it comes to Manchester. I of think Dave Mackey, the legend, and Howard Cooke for Liverpool. I watched Josh Hallett’s video [Paul,] that was cool, I really liked that. I do weirdly think of Mike Arnold for Leeds even though he’s from Bristol. But that Dale [Starkie] kid is really good, isn’t he?
Yeah, but he doesn’t need telling that. Cheers, Casper!
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Check back on Friday for an interview with Casper's fellow Atlantic Drifter, Chris Jones.
Keep an eye out over at Vague Skate Mag for upcoming coverage of the Nike SB UK58 Tour in the near future.